Ter Bals presents his recent picture novel Tagebuch Oskar von Balz (Diary Oskar von Balz) about which i have already written extensively in Villa La Repubblica. Click here to read that article (in Dutch).
Akkerman, of course, won’t need much introduction as the uncurable self portrait painter.
No doubt Akkerman’s works are self portraits but on the other hand they are not, as they are also reflections on painting and its traditions, from medieval to post-modern, or rather a mix of it.
Looking at them, one may think of different styles but they are always clearly in the first place works by Akkerman, who defies the usual linear idea of history.
That is where he meets his much younger colleague Ter Bals, to whom he has given much space to arrange the show.
Some of Akkerman’s works even drown more or less behind the scene here and there.
Engebrechtsz, for all his artistic shortcomings, was a great colourist, composition designer and storyteller and his two great triptychs (amongst smaller works) in the Lakenhal are no less than masterpieces.
Their wealth of rhythms, colours and themes may remind you of the polyphonic music of the time.
It was a great joy seeing them again (and indeed to see Villevoyes stunning work again).
The most famous work in the room is of course Lucas’ Last Judgement triptych (1527), which fortunately survived the massive iconoclasm later that century.
Leiden also boasts a small but interesting collection of 17th century art, connected to Leiden, in its wonderful rooms with 19th century skylights.
The so-called Pape Corridor shows works by novelist Jan Wolkers (1925-2007) who also was a prolific visual artist and who was born in Oegstgeest near Leiden and as a youngster he worked and painted there.
His visual works on show are very much historic documents now.
During the 16th and 17th centuries Leiden became rich and important for its cloth industry and sales, for which Lakenhal was originally built (‘Lakenhal’ means Cloth Hall).
Some of that wealth can still be seen in the present museum.
The museum recently presented some new cloth designs, amongst others by The Hague artist Christie van der Haak (1950).
Lakenhal also has an important collection of works from the first half of the 20th century, interspersed with contemporary works like this moving portrait of the hapless Marinus van der Lubbe (1909-1934; also from Leiden) by Gert Germeraad (1959).
Only few artefacts will remind you of Leiden’s academic history, amongst others a phantom cabinet by Mark Dion (1961).
Another point of some local historic chauvinism is Leiden’s heroic role during the Dutch Revolt (1568-1648), which inspired the museum to commission a monumental photo work by Erwin Olaf (1959), which is probably more impressive than all other works in the room.
The museum breaths a sense of history connected to the present day.
Renovated it has become pleasant, clearly structured, light and more diversified.
It doesn’t pretend to be cosmopolitan and it isn’t geared to big blockbusters, which is a relief in between all those art museums in the country which try to be interchangeable international entrepreneurial art depots.
The Lakenhal Museum can be proud of what it has become.
This is the public, free and unguarded bicycle storage behind Centraal Station at Rijnstraat, as seen in 2017.
It is in a small area that constantly slips from the attention of the city’s gentrifyers, while they are working hard on the area in front of the station to change that into a circus of zombie urbanism.
I must say the bike storage, or bike hotel as it is often called, and its surroundings are as ugly as ugly can be, but, in a way, i like it even more for it.
It has a gloomy character of greyness, of metal, concrete and of unruly traffic.
Under it are taxi ranks.
Some people leave their bikes in the storage as if it is an ominous asylum where you can leave your pet behind in anonymous solitude, while other bikes are just stolen.
But most people store their bikes there just for a day to catch their train or bus to their work, and in spite of the somewhat sinister atmosphere you can quite safely do so.
The bicycle is an almost integral part of the Dutch body and as bikes, being eco-friendly monsters, are becoming more important, earlier or later the town’s gentrifyers and managers will find a ‘solution’ for this rather grim place.
Let’s hope they won’t for now, as the more unsuspected, maybe even darker places of town are part of its ambiguous character.
In Modern Times people are struggling to take part in the rat race for survival in times of modernism, while in London a gallery tried another strategy to sell modernist art to survive the crisis in a country with a predominantly conservative taste.
More than 80 years later we live in a post-postmodern era but we still feel the tremors of the great social, economic and artistic modernist age that was the 20th century.
Rianne Groen – who closed down her gallery in Rotterdam only recently – co-operated with Billytown – the Hague platform that constantly struggles for new perspectives – to make a new Modern Pictures for Modern Rooms show with Lieven Hendriks (1970) and Thomas Trum (1989), in which she tries to take a fresh look at what decoration means in the context of art in daily life of the post-postmodern present.
Billytown’s space is hardly the place to create a cosy living room, but with some adaptations a place with familiar elements which suit a former school building was created as an environment for Hendriks’ and Trum’s works.
Abstraction (which historically became the hallmark of modernism) is clearly a principle of Trum’s lively material improvisations, while Hendriks brings back abstraction into hyper-reality with his trompe l’oeil paintings.
With its big windows the art doesn’t just seem to give context to Billytown’s space but also to the reality of street life outside the gallery.
Trum’s monumental One Purple Line seems to become part of the square outside Billytown.